Make a change.

Gandhi said we must “be the change that we wish to see in the world.” He also said “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Others say that happiness cannot be bought, or that happiness is a choice and that happiness is up to each individual. 

My family reads books. All generations, boys and girls, college graduates and PhD’s alike. We read novels, mysteries, biographies and everything else, and we read a lot. Aunts and Uncles living rooms are filled with bookcases caving under the weight of hundreds of thousands of pages of typed text. My family could operate its’ own library system with books flowing from one household to the next and back again. I love my family. There is just one really big difference between me and them.

 I watch TV. Lots and lots of TV. Cooking shows, documentaries, foreign films, reality TV, pretty much anything without a laugh track is fair game for me and my TV. Here’s a little secret…

I hate how much TV I watch. It’s true. Yet, it’s always on! Between Netflix, Amazon Prime and old fashioned cable TV, I can always find something to watch. In fact, TV is the only way for me to fully turn off my brain… My analytical brain gets distracted listening to music or reading a book. TV engulfs my brain and I can get entirely consumed in the most ridiculous of shows for hours. I can forget the stress of a career, or the difficulty of moving on to the next step. I cannot call it a relaxed existence, but I am fully lost in the TV. I quite literally do not know what else to do for an entire day, so I just hit the power button and off I go.  I watch TV. Lots and lots of it. And it doesn’t make me happy.

I am tired of watching TV.

My family reads books, and I’ve noticed that those readers are smarter than me. Their conversations are more intelligent, highly engaging and tend to cover a wider variety of topics than I can knowingly participate in or contribute to. I fall away from this world with its’ stress and depressive loneliness, and I get lost in the fantasy world that’s been produced to entice me, to bribe me and to trick me into believing in the falseness of the show. All while hiding from actual real life.  I’d like to participate in the fuller conversations that books seem to offer than stay lost in a fake characters life.

I woke up this morning and noticed that my entire house is set up around the damn television! I hadn’t noticed it before. The TV is the first thing I see when I walk into the living room. The couches face the TV. The kitchen sink has a straight view of the TV. The surround sound system makes the TV audible from every room. My entire home is set up to focus on the TV.  Well no bleeping wonder I can’t turn it off! 

There is only one way to fix this, and it hit me like a ton of bricks today. I had only one option: REMOVE THE TV. That’s right. I had to put it away. I disconnected all of the wires and moved all the speakers, boxes, modems and remotes. I put the tv in the closet.  Literally, it’s on the floor in the guest room closet hiding underneath a blanket. It ‘s gone, and it left behind a void that needed to be filled. So, I rearranged all the furniture and refocused my home. There is now floor space enough to do yoga, play fetch with the dog and see the beautiful flooring. There is also a much cozier, comfortable and inviting space on the other side of the room. The sofa isn’t littered with remote controls. The fireplace and lamps and sofa pillows are just begging to be used. The space feels inspired all on its’ own, and there is no need to turn on the TV to make the space feel alive. The TV is gone and there is no longer room for it in this space. Oddly, it’s hard to believe it was ever here…

Tomorrow, I am going to need to visit the book store…

Gandhi was right. We have to be the agents of change in our world. Self control and self worth are dynamically challenging ideas to overcome successfully. I couldn’t walk into my living room without reaching for the remote control. And, really, what was I going to do? Hide the remote from myself? Please.

It’s time to change. It’s time to read. It’s time to write. It’s time to be the reason the space feels alive and inspired. It’s time to join the family pastime.  As Gandhi said, happiness requires harmony between our thoughts, words and actions. I was not happy watching TV, so I had to make the decision to align thoughts, words and actions. This may not be the secret to immediate happiness, and that’s OK. It will be the first step in a new direction, and that is enough for today. For me, today, at this stage in life, it was the TV.  Henry David Thoreau said, “that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” The life I’ve always imagined is hard to define on some levels. But I know without a doubt it doesn’t take place in front of a TV. What is it for you? Think about it and make the decisions necessary to move the distraction out of the way.



Blown Away

The grey skies that cloud and consume my memories of living in Michigan were brightened during a recent midwinter trip. The blues, purples and yellows that painted the sun setting sky at the end of this March day provided, as they so often do, a peaceful reminder that tomorrow is not promised, and this life is temporary. Photographs of our loved ones and pictures of God’s incredible world allow us to remember a specific moment in the midst of this thing we call life. The magic of a camera!

Pictures never tell the entire story. For example, this picture cannot tell you that it was barely 26 degrees, or that the winds were blowing at more than 35mph. The camera lens only shows what it can see, and all other human senses are ignored. Snapshots allow the viewer to transpose individual feelings, memories and dreams into the vista…

 IMG_8315 Lake Michigan – March 2017 – Copyright fotosbyFirenze

For me, fewer things provide as much peace, hope and serenity as watching a day fade away with the painting of the sky. Despite nearly being blown backwards over the sand dune, this snap shot was a fitting end to a beautiful day.

I once heard that a “year is made up of 12 chapters”. Well, life also has chapters – childhood, college, decade to decade, careers, etc.- and during this current chapter of life, I hope to see and capture many, many more sunsets and to simultaneously combine new snapshots and memories with those of the past.